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This is a series of ten shorts created for Polish Television, with plots loosely based upon the Ten Commandments, directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski. Two of these, Dekalog 5 and 6, are shorter cuts from the feature-length films--Krotki film o zabijaniu (A Short Film About Killing) and Krotki film o milosci (A Short Film About Love), respectively. They deal with the emotional turmoil suffered by humanity, when instinctual acts and societal morality conflict. —Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Written in little over a year and a half and done with a budget that any Hollywood production would consider ridiculous, Krysztof Kieslowski and Krysztof Piesiewicz created some of the most thought provoking and emotional films of all time with this miniseries. What was even more dramatic is that these pieces were unavailable on video for almost 15 years due to its distributor. Based on an original idea of Piesiewicz, Kieslowski's long time collaborator, the series was to be given to different directors each time. But Kieslowski fell in love with the project and ended up filming all of them. What makes these pieces unique is their rhythm, their unique images and their amazing scripts. Very little dialogue is used all along. Instead, Kieslowski gives you a full knowledge of his characters by little incidents in their lives, which end up having more resonance. Each one of the stories are linked by location, all occuring to different occupants of an apartment complex over the course of what's very likely one year. Each piece is an entity by itself and can be watched separately, although some of the characters do reappear in different episodes in bit parts. Most significant is that one who has been called "the angel", a mysterious figure whose gaze serves as a warning sign to the main characters. Since the films are loosely based on the ten commandments (and the different ways we break them every single day), the mood is one of anguish and solitude. And Warsaw and that inhumane apartment complex are a perfect setting for these desolate stories. Still, there's no need to be a Christian or even a religious person to enjoy these films. Most films deal with human issues and tough moral choices. Although the stories have received a subtitle to associate each of them with a commandment, these were not present in the original vision of the director and were added later by the Venice Film Festival's press office. Also, if you've seen two of the films in their longer versions: "A short film about Killing" and "A short film about Love", you should also watch them again here in their original versions, since they provide a small glimpse at the genius of Kieslowski who changes and adds small scenes that make the movies (specially "a short film about love") different experiences and almost vignettes of a people's lives.
- Oct 10, 2000
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